It is pretty well known that actor Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible) is typically involved with and oversees most, if not all, of the aspects of the movies in which he stars. So, after more than thirty years, when the timing and the script were finally right, Cruise returned to Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California to film the long-awaited Top Gun sequel, Top Gun: Maverick. After many starts, stops, and delays - for various reasons including COVID - the film will be released worldwide on May 27, 2022, in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend and, based on earlier advance screenings, it is projected to gross approximately $100 million in those first few days.
Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Cruise) is a Naval test pilot who is still haunted by the ghosts of his past. When he finds out his project - Mach 10 test flight - has been defunded, he does what he does best, and ignores orders to reach his goal. Once he is back on the ground, he is told if it wasn't for Maverick's longtime friend, Admiral Tom "Iceman" Kasansky (Val Kilmer; Real Genius), he would have been kicked out years ago but, on Iceman's orders, he is instead being sent back to Top Gun as an instructor.
Once there, Maverick is "briefed" as to why and who he will be training, which is problematic as the pilots include Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller; Whiplash). Rooster is the son of Maverick's best friend and former RIO, Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards; Miracle Mile) who Maverick and Rooster both blame Maverick for Goose's death. With tension mounting and the training deadline drawing nearer, Maverick must prove the special mission can be successful with the right pilots. Of course, his way of "proving" it can be done is by, once again, bucking the rules.
Much like Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible movies, Cruise embodies the character of Maverick with all his bravado, insecurities, and skeletons. Teller's resemblance to Edwards is scary, especially with the mustache. He holds his own in scenes with Cruise which is important else the older actor would have swallowed him whole. Jennifer Connelly (Snowpiercer) plays Maverick's love interest and surprisingly they have a good/interesting chemistry that works for both of their characters. Of course, a Top Gun Movie wouldn't be complete without an appearance from Kilmer and his cameo is a quick highlight in a movie that is full of them. The sensitivity shown to the actor and his illness is heartwarming, in an industry not necessarily known for being a class act.
The action sequences are heart-pounding and offer the audience an adrenaline rush like no other. Having the cameras in the cockpits with the actors gives those scenes an authenticity never seen before in a film. To the actors' credit, they do a great job acting and reciting dialogue while pulling 5Gs. Everyone has heard the stories of the training regiment Cruise designed for the actors to prepare them for the action and that training pays off in the end.
So many times a sequel can't live up to the original film, especially when the first movie was a blockbuster that has achieved iconic status. Top Gun: Maverick could have been a horrible mess (although I doubt Cruise would have signed on if the script wasn't good), but it is a sequel that is just as good, if not better than the original. The 1986 Top Gun grossed $371 million on a $15 million dollar budget so this month's Top Gun: Maverick has some hefty shoes to fill (especially since the budget was ten times the original movie's) but I think it will exceed expectations and make its mark as a sequel of a one of a kind film.